Aldnoah.Zero – 04

az41

This was yet another tour-de-force nail-biter of backs-up-against-the-wall, all or nothing action. Again, it’s not a question of whether humanity can defeat Vers; that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But you take small victories where you can get them, and for Inaho and company, every day their cargo of civilians is safe from harm is a victory.

az42

Even if their hometown of Shinawara is a meteorite-ridden ruin, they’re still alive; an act of resistance against Vers in and of itself. After Inaho saved her, Asseylum decides to reveal her true identity to him, and he’s his usual cool-as-a-cucumber self. It’s ironic that there’s another character named “Calm” who’s a lot less calm than Inaho; none of what this show has thrown at him has really flustered him.

az43

With the civilians safe, their new mission is to find the means for the princess to contact her grandfather the emperor; she believes knowing she’s still alive will halt the war in its tracks, but that’s an exceedingly naive assumption. Even if grandpa wants peace with the Terrans as much as she does, the Orbital Knights have landed, staked their claims, and blood is in the water. It’s a veritable feeding frenzy down there, and glory is the repast.

az44

Still, that’s the plan. Inaho may not consider the princess the enemy, but Rayet won’t hesistate to expose her if she deems it necessary. That becomes a possibility when the navy hovercraft they’re aboard and the installation where they’re resupplying falls under the attack of a Vers kataphrakt, one that wields a really bright, noisy light katana. One by one, the forward Terran kataphrakts are felled, and a great tension builds as the enemy draws closer and closer.

az45

Asseylum volunteers to go out there and speak to the pilot as she did before, but she’d be flipping a coin over whether he’s loyal or one of the co-conspirators who tried to assassinate her (and still believe they succeeded). Instead, Inaho and Calm go out in their trainers and do what they do best: improvise. Using a cargo crane to knock the Vers kataphrakt on its ass was particularly inspired, and I loved Inko’s sheepish reaction when it doesn’t work a second time.

az46

But again, Inaho & Co. aren’t trying to pull off miracles, only buying time, plain and simple, for the cavalry to arrive in the form of another naval vessel armed with enough teeth to compel the enemy to bug out. When you’re such an overwhelming underdog, sometimes you need to depend on things other than your own strength and skill—like luck, timing, and the enemy’s arrogance or indifference—to survive the day.

az47

And then there’s Slaine, who gets in his plane and heads right back to Cruhteo, lying that the meteorite bombardment did Trillram in and not mentioning that Asseylum still draws breath. Even if Cruhteo didn’t conspire against the princess, he’s still exploiting the situation for all it’s worth. And While he gets smacked around, Slaine seems to convince his superior to let him continue to participate in the battle, meaning we can’t rule out him and Asseylum reuniting again.

9_brav

Advertisements

Sword Art Online II – 04

saoii41

After three weeks of setting the stage, Kirito is finally in Gun Gale Online…and he looks like a friggin’ girl! Though he isn’t a girl in the places that count, his clothes hide that fact. The extremely low female player population of GGO means he sticks out like a sore thumb, and I like how uncomfortable being ogled makes him. HA! Now you know how all your many lady friends feel, KK!

saoii42

His looks work in his favor when he runs into Sinon, who’d likely be a lot more standoffish if he was a guy, even the willowy Kirito of ALO or SAO. As it is, she’s glad to be hanging out and talking with another girl, considering she has no friends of any gender in the real world. Their walk to the gun store gives us a better look at GGO’s whimsical cyberpunk capital. At the store she unleashes a hail of gun geekery on Kirito…but with a thin wallet his choices are limited.

saoii43a

Enter Untouchable!, a goofy minigame within GGO that’s deceptively primitive but requires that you anticipate the animatronic gunman’s bullet trajectories. Most people just try to dodge them when their HUDs warn them, but he inevitably gets them. Kirito takes the game on and clears it easily, netting him a cool 300K and the dropped jaws of Sinon and everyone else who watched.

saoii44

Then he goes and blows half of it on…well, there isn’t an easier way to say this, so I’ll just say it….on Mace Windu’s lightsaber. The darn thing has the exact same on-off swooshing and woom-woom sounds. I’m guessing these sound effects, originally created by Ben Burtt, are used under some kind of license. At any rate, it’s quite fitting that Kirito is bringing a sword to a gun fight. Stick with what you know!

saoii45

As for guns, he knows nothing, but Sinon is a walking Gunipedia and is willing and happy to help him out. When they lose track of time and have only ten minutes to get to the Governor’s office to register for the Ballet of Bullets, Kirito shows off his racing game skills, giving Sinon an exhilarating 3-wheeled buggy ride. We’ll see what she thinks of him when she finds out he’s a guy, but for now, it’s all smiles and figurative sunshine.

8_brav

Akame ga Kill! – 03

akame31

This episode had a nice air of relevancy and competence to it: all of the scenes had a discernible purpose that aided either our understanding of the characters and the messed-up world they inhabit or both, starting with the cold open, when intruders are on Night Raid’s doorstep.

akame32

It provides some group combat experience for Tatsumi, It shows off all of the members’ unique skills, and it illustrates the constant vigilance required to preserve their operation. The Prime Minister, who has the young emperor wrapped around his little finger, is gunning for Night Raid, and there’s plenty of mercs out there willing to try their hand at capturing them.

akame33

Of course, the focus of this episode was Tatsumi butting heads with the pink-loving master sniper Mine. From the moment he barges in to her room while she’s changing (of course), she wants nothing to do with the newbie, but just as Tatsumi warmed to Akame in the last episode, Mine gradually comes around to acknowledging him “a little bit.”

akame34

But before that comes their mission to “investigate the capital city’s conditions”; in other words, go shopping, as Tatsumi angrily points out. Still, as the intruder raid reminded, any or all members of Night Raid could die tomorrow, so Mine is fully committed to playing as hard as she works, enjoying her time off to the fullest, which makes sense.

akame35

The trip to the capital also allows Tatsumi a chance to see through it’s ornate sheen to the suffering and despair the majority of citizens are going through. as a result of the crummy, brutal government, which holds public crucifixions just ’cause. I will say, the Minister Onest himself is a bit over-the-top evil-wise, promising to “take care” a subordinate’s comely wife as he sends him away to be drawn and quartered.

akame36

The Minister also has relatives, like Iokal, who lives in a garish monstrosity of a mansion with a harem of women he and his guards beat and rape to death when he’s in the mood. You gotta leave it to AGK, it doesn’t leave any room for you to sympathize with the bad guys! They will rape All Of The Women if not stopped. But when dispatching them is as satisfying to watch as it was here, that hardly matters whether there’s any good in them…which there isn’t.

akame37

Mine does the dispatching of Iokal with her trusty Imperial Arm Pumpkin, a sniper rifle on steroids. When the fifth of his five elite guards tries to get the jump on her, Tatsumi is there to be her shield. He holds the guard (another one who threatens rape) down so she can put a big hole in him; Mission Complete, Let’s Go Eat.

akame38

So Tatsumi is two-for-two in proving himself. Leone and Balut seem to already like the guy, so that leaves Lubbock and Sheele. There’s also an Imperial Arm bearer freshly arrived in the Capital who wants to tangle with Akame & Co and loves his killin’. We’ll see how long he lasts.

8_mag

Tokyo Ghoul – 04

tg40

This week picks up right where the last left off: Ken meeting the flamboyant ghoul “gourmet” and bon vivant, Tsukyama Shuu, voiced by Miyano Mamoru who purrs most of his lines with a silky menace. Shuu wastes no time invading Ken’s space and generally creeping him out, but he can’t help it: he is a man who likes the finer things, and Shuu’s scent is a fine thing indeed.

tg41

While there was never any doubt that Ken was being led into another trap by another ghoul who doesn’t have his best interests at heart, before that happens Ken hangs out with ghouls who do: Yomo, Uta, and Itori are a trio of friends who go way back and have a bit of a wild past, but are now “mainstreaming.” Itori lets Ken know Rize’s death probably wasn’t a mere accident, while Yomo offers defense training after work.

tg42

That training doesn’t progress very long before Ken is in some dire need of it. After a seemingly harmless meet-up at a cafe, Shuu, channeling Rize’s knack for predation-by-seduction and flattery, lures Ken to his mansion. After showering and dressing up to the nines, Ken is given a cup of drugged coffee than lifted up into a blood-spattered arena where the masked ghoul aristocracy looking down from opera balconies.

tg43

It’s all very Eyes Wide Shut, and Ken looks well and truly screwed when a simply ginormous “scrapper” is loosed on him with all manner of cleavers and a saw that can cut through stone. But the shaved gorilla is slow and dumb, and the mortal peril draws out Ken’s ghoul side, shocking the crowd. Shuu shuts the fete down, killing the scrapper, and apologizes to Ken.

tg45

It’s definitely a disquieting look into the bored, rich, seedy under-underbelly of ghoul society, but I like how Rize mocked it all as “playing at humanity” in a flashback that makes Shuu’s blood boil almost to the point of giving away the game too early. As a glutton, Rize embraced her primal, animal side, something Shuu seems intent on gussying up with pomp and pageantry. To her, that’s no better than mainstreaming; a form of self-neutering.

tg46

Unlike Rize or Shuu—or practically anyone else, for that matter—Ken isn’t “playing at” being a human; he is still half of one. Once he figures out what he that and how to summon and control his power, he could do a lot of bad, but he could also do a lot of good. In either case, he can make a big difference, which is why he can’t keep letting himself get lured into traps, to say nothing of falling into the hands of the Doves.

7_mag

Stray Observations:

  • Sadly there’s not much Touka this week, though we do get a scene that demonstrates how hard it must be for a ghoul to mainstream, as her classmate offers her some food, which Touka is later unable to purge. Too much of that and she’ll get sick.
  • For a show that’s had mostly normal-sized and shape humans and ghouls alike, the scrapper was a bit too cartoonishly huge and muscular. It was just a silly design.
  • I’m also watching True Blood, so Shuu’s intense arousal of Ken’s scent reminded me of the way Sookie’s fairy blood gets vamps’ mouths watering.
  • There’s also a bit of Hannibal Lecter in Shuu’s mannerisms. Rather than a “foodie”, let’s call him a “fleshie.”

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? – 01

RokuJPGe

Koutarou Satomi, a high schooler living alone, moves into a cheap apartment to save his recently divorced dad some money. Little does he know his apartment is haunted, a source of magical power, the nexus of mole-person revenge and the arbitrary site where aliens will practice domination. Things look rough for our… hero… but fear not! he worked damn hard to find such a cheap apartment and isn’t going to give it up without a fight!

RnS has all the hallmarks of a slap-stick harem piece: 7 uniquely styled girl-archetypes each need to win his favor to fulfill a personal objective and none of them can live with anything short of total success. Well, except his landlord / love interest / class mate Kasagi Shizuka, who just wants things kept nice and tidy. She’ll probably get him in the end anyway…

RnS1_02

As harem bits go, RnS is okay. While not visually remarkable, the art is survivable and each girl has enough charm and genre appeal to generate her own fans, I suppose. Likewise, Satomi is neither absurdly rejects their initial advances, nor does he hound dog go all ecchi on us either. His response to the madness is remarkably even keel, which I appreciate.

The humor is also fairly decent. The magic girl is a klutz and everyone assumes she’s just a cosplayer. The mole woman has gold and big boobs and a willingness to use both to get Satomi to relinquish the apartment. The alien’s grand entrance is poorly timed and ends up with her chest planted firmly in Satomi’s face. It’s cute, but all very safe and standard as harems go.

RnS1_03

If RnS deserves any particular criticism, it’s that it plays it too safe. We’ve all seen a million harem pieces before and is this really that different from any of them? Is it better than Shuffle (which has sexier art), God Only Knows (which has a smarter setup) or Love Hina (which is funnier)?

Not really.

For now, it’s just a safe, chuckle-worthy watch. And my wife won’t let me drop it because she likes it too much!

6_ogk

Zankyou no Terror – 03

znt31

Twelve isn’t content to wow a bunch of dummies; he wants a counterpart: someone at least clever enough to decipher Sphinx’s riddles; someone to make a game of this, because when you’re raised in a government facility where love doesn’t exist, what is life but and elaborate games? And in any game, Twelve wants a worthy opponent.

znt32

Well, Mouse…Meet Cat: Shibasaki is officially on the case. Every bit the Japanese Lester Freamon, “natural police” who dug a little too deep a politically sensitive case years ago. Doing so exiled him to the archives and presumably cost him his family. We also learn he’s the son of Hibakusha, which combined with his wan complexion and haggard appearance make him an object of compassion.

znt33

Shibasaki and Twelve/Nine are a lot alike in that both had things taken from them, but they still survived and have been living on, in an almost dormant state. Now the Sphinx has awakened and is bearing its claws all over Tokyo. Shibasaki, once the force’s ace detective, nicknamed “Razor”, has been taken out of its sheath, and the rust is shaking off fast.

znt35

Just as a great comic can make a joke out of anything around him, on the spot, a great detective can find inspiration for the case anywhere around him, as long as he keeps his eyes and ears open. The spark that leads to solving the riddle comes from Mukasa, who defeats the “green dragon” on his online phone game. In the process, he won over a skeptic in the young hotshot Hamura, who would do well to watch and learn.

znt36

Shibasaki also muses that just as Mukasa is playing a cooperative multiplayer game, connecting with random people rather than playing alone, the young duo of Sphinx are similarly reaching out for a human connection, one sophisticated enough to solve their riddles and hang with them in a protracted chase that will sharpen both Sphinx’s claws and the Razor’s edge.

znt37

But no matter how wounded or lonely these kids may be, Shibasaki won’t forgive them if they use the plutonium trump card they stole, and retrieving it is paramount. Twelve and Nine seem amused by the old man’s righteous indignation, but they also seem happy to have a legit playmate.

znt34

As for Lisa, well, she’s mostly on the margins of this episode, deciding to run away from home. It seems unlikely she’ll be able to find her one-time saviors, but maybe Nine will find her. He seems more interested in her than Twelve, who seems more interested in an albino kid from the facility who haunts his daydreams.

9_brav